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Kyle's story

In the mid-1960s, when Kyle was 10 years old and living in a country town in western NSW, he and other boys volunteered to help the new school librarian sort and label books over the holidays. During this time that Ted Carlton, the librarian, sexually abused Kyle over four days.

Kyle knew of other boys who were abused but they never discussed it. He thought that Carlton was an ex-priest or religious brother because he seemed to know so much about the teachings of the Catholic faith.

Kyle told the Commissioner he didn’t know exactly why Carlton suddenly left, but because his family home adjoined the school, he suspected one of the other boys had raised the alarm. ‘After the four days I didn’t want to go back’, Kyle said. ‘I just kept peering over the fence and I saw the other kids over a period of time and then I know something happened because there was a police car. At the end of the school holidays there was a police car at the monastery where the Brothers stayed. This man was only at our school for a period of a month, I’d say, before the school holidays so he was only there for two months.’

Years later, Kyle contacted the archdiocesan Bishop and disclosed the abuse by Carlton. He also voiced his suspicions that the Bishop at the time had known about Carlton’s behaviour and moved him on. In response, Kyle was told that the then Bishop was too sick to discuss the matter and it was recommended he contact the office of Towards Healing. A referral was made by the Bishop, and when staff of Towards Healing rang Kyle, he told them never to telephone him again.

Kyle hadn’t told his parents about the sexual abuse at the time, nor afterwards because they were both strict Catholics.

‘My father was a drunk. My mother wouldn’t handle it. It’d send the whole fucking family into chaos. How could I tell them that? Besides I wouldn’t know how to tell them at 11 years of age. I’m still working out what had been done to me.’
Carlton told Kyle that if he told anyone about the abuse, he’d ‘go straight to hell’ because ‘he was a good man and I brought him down’.

From being an A grade student and leading athlete, Kyle said his world quickly deteriorated after the abuse. ‘I started thieving, smoking cigarettes … Everything went to the pack. I didn’t know if I was homosexual, heterosexual, or what.’

At 18, Kyle went to Darwin to help rebuild the city after Cyclone Tracy. Over the years he’d made good money and maintained reasonably stable, though transient, employment. His relationships and health though, had been very poor. He said he’d been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for 20 years. ‘Twenty something times I’ve tried to commit suicide’, he said. The most recent attempt was in 2010 and soon afterwards he stopped drinking alcohol, ‘cause I know I can’t be on this earth and drink’.

After watching a television appearance by Cardinal George Pell, Kyle for the first time, disclosed the sexual abuse to his brother and to his mental health worker, both of whom believed him. ‘[My brother] said he knew something had happened. He said he knew when I started shoplifting and smoking cigarettes. He said, “Then I knew something happened”. He’s now a teacher and he said to me last night, “I’m disgusted people in my profession did that shit”.

Kyle told the Commissioner he no longer felt shame about the abuse. ‘I’m proud of myself. The fact that I’m still alive, it’s a miracle. And I still believe, I still have my faith. They took it away from me, but I got it back. I have a belief in God and I pray, and that helps. They took it away from me but I got it back.’

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